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Trump sends 'powerful, unmistakable signal' to N. Korea: senior adviser

US President Donald Trump sent a "powerful and unmistakable" message to North Korea when he held a news conference after the communist nation carried out a surprise ballistic missile launch, a senior presidential aide said Sunday.

Trump held the impromptu conference at his Florida resort jointly with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, just hours after the North launched a ballistic missile off its east coast in the first such launch since Trump came into office last month.

Trump said the United States stands behind Japan "100 percent" in the face of North Korean threats.

"Last night, what you saw was the president of the United States sending a powerful and unmistakable signal to North Korea and to the entire world," Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"As he stood shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister of Japan and declared our steadfast and unwavering support for that alliance. And the meaning of that symbolism will be lost on no one," the official said.

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump (Yonhap)
Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump (Yonhap)

Miller also said the Trump administration will "reinforce and strengthen our vital alliances in the Pacific region as part of our strategy to deter and prevent the increasing hostility that we've seen in recent years from the North Korean regime."

"More broadly, as you know, we're inheriting a situation around the world today that is deeply troubling -- the situation in North Korea, the situation in Iraq, the situation in Syria, the situation in Yemen," he said.

The North's missile launch, which took place Sunday morning (local time), came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened last month to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, apparently capable of striking the US.

Officials at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the North's missile, which flew about 500 kilometers, appears to be either an intermediate-range Musudan or the medium-range Nodong missile, not an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. Strategic Command also confirmed the North's launch, saying it detected and tracked what appears to be either a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile, and the missile posed no threats to North America.

Trump and Abe spent time together at Trump's resort after a summit at the White House on Friday.

After the talks, Trump said the two sides agreed to work closely together to cope with the nuclear and missile threats from the North. He also said defending against the North's threats is a "very very high priority."

The two sides also issued a joint statement strongly urging the North to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and not to take any further provocative actions. They also reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement UN sanctions on Pyongyang. (Yonhap)